Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Strawberry Granita - Better Than Ice Cream

If you haven't tried them before, granitas are an icy treat, similar to sorbets or gelatos. They don't contain cream or milk, and are probably closer in texture to an icy frozen slushie than to ice cream. I have two reasons why these are fantastic for home cooks:
- as far as I can tell they are not available commercially. Occassionally they show up on a restaurant menu, but this is not something you will find at the supermarket or even the gourmet deli (ie if you want it you have to make it)
- it is really easy - no churning, no ice cream machine and only a couple of ingredients
I started making granitas last summer with grapes, initially just as a garnish for a Spanish cold almond soup. Since then the love affair has blossomed and I have experimented with a few different fruits, recently landing on strawberries. Queensland strawberries are in season at the moment, and, even better, the punnet price has halved in the last month or so. This recipe is from Karen Martini's "Cooking At Home". I am starting to think Martini should be nominated as a national treasure. This granita is a knock out, and perfect prepare ahead fare for entertaining. With the double cream, somehow the flavours in this dessert made me nostalgic for those strawberry and cream lollies, although I am quite sure they never tasted this good.
Strawberry Granita with Double Cream
from "Cooking At Home" by Karen Martini
130g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split
350 ml water
handful basil leaves
400g strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
125 ml double cream
6 large strawberries extra, hulled and sliced
Combine sugar, vanilla bean and water over heat in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then boil for 5 mins. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool. Strain, discarding the solids. Puree the strawberries and lemon juice in a blender then strain through a fine sieve. Add to the cooled syrup, mix well and pour into a shallow wide tray (my freezer wouldn't fit this, so I used a couple of plastic slice boxes). Freeze for 2 hours, remove from freezer and scrape the frozen ice crystals from the edges with a fork. Return to freezer for about 1 1/2 hours until set. Remove and scrape/smash the crystals again. Divide the cream among serving dishes, then spoon in granita. Top with a layer of sliced strawberries to serve.


Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Now I going to have to do the math so I can make these. This looks and sound just perfect. Thanks for sharing!

Debinhawaii said...

Gorgeous! I love granitas and am making one with jasmine tea this week. I love the strawberries and cream combination--perfect!